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Air Force’s new B-21 Raider stealth bomber first flight over Palmdale

After years of secrecy, the B-21 Raider emerged from its Palmdale hangar Friday morning and took its first flight, hovering via the sky and giving airplane fanatics, contractor staff and the general public its first glimpse of the futuristic-looking bomber in air.

The B-21 bomber, which is being constructed by Northrop Grumman Corp., took off from the secretive Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale earlier than heading north towards Edwards Air Force Base, stated Matt Hartman, a photographer who was out in Palmdale in hopes of taking images of the airplane after he’d heard rumors {that a} flight is likely to be imminent.

About 80 folks crowded close to the Palmdale Regional Airport to attempt to see the first flight with their very own eyes. Once the bomber flew by, “you could hear a pin drop,” Hartman stated.

The U.S. Air Force confirmed that the B-21 is in flight testing, and referred to as it a “critical step” within the bomber’s check program. Flight testing consists of not simply flying operations but additionally floor and taxiing checks. Edwards Air Force Base is accountable for testing and analysis for the B-21.

The flight check program “moves us another step closer to reaching operational capability,” Northrop Grumman stated in an announcement Friday. In December, Northrop Grumman unveiled the B-21 bomber for the first time, though that reveal solely showcased the entrance of the plane. Technical particulars of the airplane have thus far been extremely categorized.

The Air Force plans to purchase no less than 100 B-21 stealth bombers by the mid-2030s for about $80 billion. Already, six B-21 bombers are in manufacturing, the Air Force stated. The new planes will ultimately change the getting old B-1 and B-2 bomber fleets.

Although the B-21’s flying-wing form seems just like that of the B-2, it has improved stealth expertise and shall be extra supportable and maintainable than its predecessor, which has notoriously excessive upkeep prices.

The bomber is designed to fly each crewed and uncrewed missions, reflecting technological updates that weren’t out there when the B-2 was constructed within the Nineteen Eighties.

The Air Force plans to get its first few B-21 bombers, that are designed to fly long-range missions whereas evading radar detection, by the mid-2020s. The bomber is a part of the U.S. army’s effort to replace its nuclear triad, which incorporates warheads, submarines and missiles, as world rivals equivalent to China additionally enhance their weapons expertise.

The program has boosted aerospace employment within the Antelope Valley, lengthy recognized for its aerospace manufacturing jobs. In December, greater than 7,000 folks have been employed at Northrop Grumman’s Antelope Valley amenities, which is double the quantity there in 2015 when the corporate received the bomber contract.

The B-21 Raider stealth bomber is unveiled at Northrop Grumman, Dec. 2, 2022, in Palmdale, Calif. The B-21 Raider has taken its first flight, shifting the futuristic warplane nearer to turning into the nation’s subsequent nuclear weapons stealth bomber.

(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)





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